Article by Alexis Van Horn
CREDIT: Instagram @fieldandforkuf
The depiction of the typical university student as represented by popular culture is as follows: stressed, busy, and making poor life choices – among these including a less-than-ideal diet. The almost glamorized stereotype of young adults in college as eating nothing but ramen noodles and cereal, as portrayed on the television screen and the media as a whole, actually is rooted in some form of truth.
While poor diets in college students is in some cases a personal preference, oftentimes a deeper-rooted problem lies in the fact that some students may have no other option. It’s no secret that groceries are progressively becoming more expensive, many college dorm rooms lack the space available to even store produce, and the restaurants available for students are often fast-food or fast-food-adjacent chains.
Student food insecurity is prevalent on many college campuses in the U.S. and is often overlooked by administration and is not common knowledge to the average student. This means that many university students across the U.S. lack consistent access to enough food for them to live an active, healthy life, whether that be a temporary or a long-lasting concern.
Students that fall under this category attending the University of Florida have an opportunity to still maintain a healthy lifestyle, regardless of the quality of food that they can typically afford. UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Field & Fork Campus Food Program provides an opportunity to give healthy, fresh food to those in need at the Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry! A core part of this program includes the Field & Fork Farm and Gardens, where UF students and employees harvest various seasonal crops that are donated to the pantry. The program works with faculty, local organizations, and businesses to enhance opportunities for students to fight local food insecurity through internships and research.
The Field & Fork Pantry offers basic staples, bread, and frozen meats, as well as fresh seasonal produce from the Field & Fork Farm and Gardens for no charge to anyone that brings their physical Gator 1 Card when they visit.
There is no proof-of-need required when shopping for these basic groceries at the pantry, and it’s a great resource that many students don’t know about, especially if they are struggling to find nutritional meal options that they normally could not afford.
The pantry is located on campus next to McCarty Hall A at 520 Newell Dr, Gainesville, FL 32603.
The hours of operation vary, so if you’re interested in visiting, reference the Field & Fork UF website: https://fieldandfork.ufl.edu/about/our-mission/.
Additionally, if you have any interest in learning more about food systems and would like to contribute to helping this program, please consider volunteering at the farm to do your part in fighting food insecurity among your peers!
With Thanksgiving in full swing, it’s important to acknowledge that while the holiday revolves around large meals shared around the table, many families may not have the financial stability to afford that same experience. Progress extends beyond ramen noodles and fast food, and anyone can help to play a part in making that difference.
Alexis Van Horn is a contributing writer for Rowdy Magazine.